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Mentoring PGCE students


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#1 Sally Burnham

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 04:45 PM

Mentoring

Mentoring PGCE students is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. I have been mentoring for four years and I have learned so much in that time, about my own teaching and about new ideas for teaching that it is worth all the hard work!
Here are a few ideas that I try to keep central to my mentoring:

§ Partnership is the key – I work with my PGCE students as colleagues. We may be at different stages in our careers but they have as much to give me as I have to offer them and when we start like that from the outset it avoids the danger of treating them like our pupils and from leaving them to flounder. There is nothing worse for a PGCE student to feel they are being patronized. I am convinced that it is through discussions with my trainees that I have got to grasp with some thorny issues like assessment – the old adage that two brains are better than one!

§ Encouraging the trainee to take responsibility for his or her own learning and training is also crucial. At the very beginning of the placement this can be tricky, but using the university guidance and careful discussions with the trainee this can be done right from the outset. After the first couple of weeks my trainees will be leading the mentor meetings to all intents and purposes. They need to be proactive in the training process, not just reactive and by giving them control of the mentor meeting and to some extent the weekly target setting, they begin to do this. Obviously there is a lot of guidance from me as mentor and I do suggest and help phrase targets and then the training activities that follow but the trainee has to think about their own progress constantly.

§ One of the things that allows the trainee to take responsibility for their own learning is good, constructive feedback. After every lesson they teach a trainee should get feedback – oral feedback at the end of the lesson and then written feedback that they can take away and reflect upon is ideal (although not always possible). Good feedback is hard to identify, weaker feedback much easier. Some examples of feedback that won’t allow the trainee to evaluate their own teaching really thoroughly include
- a simple “good lesson”,
- a list of activities that took place in the lesson,
-criticism, criticism, criticism
-“Why didn’t you… I always …”

§ In all feedback the central issues should be history and pupil learning. On top of this if the trainee is really going to take responsibility for their own progress the feedback needs to be linked to their current targets so that you can generate trainee-initiated discussion about new targets. What we are looking for is critical dialogue, this is what will allow the trainee to really develop their teaching.

§ Reading is also crucial. Trainees need to read, read, read and articles from the journal Teaching History are thought provoking, practical and provide more areas for discussion. Most university courses provided reading lists for the trainees – I make sure that I read the ‘article of the week’ too so the critical dialogue can continue and new ideas develop (both for me and the trainee)

§ It is often slightly daunting when you are faced with someone who is very able and this is also the case when mentoring a more able trainee. It is both exciting and scary but I have found that the solution is to provide them with the freedom to experiment but also to be on hand when support is needed. Risk taking inevitably leads to dips and the more able trainee is often not used to something not working – again the importance of constructive feedback is paramount.

§ A final point to remember is that the trainee may be getting advice from people across the department, or indeed the school. You need to be aware of this and to be able to diffuse situations where necessary. Make sure that the trainee can discuss the different ideas that they are being given and suggest they experiment with them – remember you are not trying to create a clone and if a trainee experiments with an idea and it works then that’s fine. If the idea doesn’t work be there to help them analyse why it didn’t work.

Mentoring is hard work, but very rewarding and helping train history teachers - who will, hopefully, be even better than us – means that we are ensuring the teaching of history just gets better and better!

#2 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 05:05 PM

Firstly, thanks for agreeing to lead this seminar Sally. Much appreciated.

Several of the mentees I have worked with have found it incredibly hard to ask for advice from staff. When asked about this they quote the demands senior staff are already under; feeling of self doubt and embarrassment and occasionally a lack of realisation that there was a problem.

I believe that one of the most crucial aspects of successful mentoring is working out a way of ensuring that the trainee feels able to criticise, self evaluate critically and ask for help. Today I had the first serial visit from this years ITT student. Examples of senior staff needing help and asking for advice from other colleagues were used to try and ensure that he knows that everyone in teaching needs reassurance and guidance from time to time. I also made sure that he had copies of the departmental and my personal development plan for the year as these illustrate the need to evaluate performance critically on a regular basis.

A clear focus and an agreed programme for medium term training needs is also very important. The trainee within my department will focus on classroom management techniques he observes next week, with particular reference to the way that we implement our behaviour policy.

To add to Sally's very good list of things to keep central to the process:

- liaison with the University based tutors. making sure that the in school activities tie in with the Uni based elements and that information is passed backwards and forwards quickly and efficiently is a key part of doing the job well.

#3 Richard Drew

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 07:06 PM

A thoroughly excellent set of ideas from Sally and from Dan. I found myself in the role of a PGCE mentor unofficially in my 2nd year, and officially in my 3rd year of teaching - and it has been the most rewardign part of my job ever since. Our new students (we have 2 this term!!!) arrive tomorrow and i can't wait.

The vast majority of the time i spend with our mentees is dedicated to preparation, not teaching or assessment. I always find that virtually all of their difficulties and self-criticism stem back to this, and this overcomes most of their problems.

Making learning purposeful and making sure that pupils really learn is the key to a successful PGCE student, and the moment they start to focus less on 'what and how i am going to teach them......', and more on 'what and how they are going to learn....' is the moment most of their major problems start to rapidly disappear.

How to plan for effective learning in a lesson and then a series of lessons is always my starting point with students, and the golden rule i have from day one is this: "If they are going to learn it simply by listening to you telling them, scrap it and start again"!!!!!!!!
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#4 neil mcdonald

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Posted 06 October 2004 - 07:38 PM

Have two PGCE students coming in next week. Did this job two years ago with 2 students from SWELTEC and it was fantastic. One aspect I did have to get into doing was in the main placement is to make sure that meetings have an organisational time in them so thte student can have a good portfolio of evidence. One student I knew had real problems with this and her grades suffered because of that. Looking back I kind of blame myself a bit because I had such a fantastic first student that when this student came along I thought she'd be at least at the same level as this was the lest placement . In the end it all came out okay although the student was nothappy at the grades.

Edited by neil mcdonald, 06 October 2004 - 07:40 PM.

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#5 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 07:07 PM

I will be having a History student for the first time, starting on Wednesday and I am very much looking forward to it. I will definitely be using this forum as a sounding board to help me out and I shall be encouraging my trainee teacher to also use the section for PGCE students.

My first question is about my initial meeting - I was planning on giving out a pack of material for the student and thought that I would include the following:

Programme of Study
Schemes of work
Assessment policy including the articles that I gave to my department from Teaching History
NC Level descriptors that we use
Lesson Plan proforma
Examples of lesson plans that I have written
Positive behaviour management material (whole school policy)
Helpful websites

Have I left anything glaringly obvious out? have I included too much and will overwhelm them?
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
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#6 Richard Drew

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 07:18 PM

Have I left anything glaringly obvious out? have I included too much and will overwhelm them?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


This does sound like a little bit too much to me for day one Dan.

If your student is anything like our 2 this term then they will have only been in college for a couple of weeks, and are trying to get to grips with all the stuff there as well. Anything to relieve the burden on them would be handy i think. I would give the student some of what you mention, but would leave out:

~ Lesson Plan proforma: they will probably have a standard PGCE course one from their lecturer, a different style one may confuse them, or cause problems with tutor observations and college assignments.
~ Assessment policy and NC descriptors: these can probably wait until they have got to grips with planning and teaching and are getting close to a point where they are ready to assess a piece of work.

Other than that you cover most of the major things they will need to start them off

Aims for day one?

~ Try to make them feel comfortable and not scared or intimidated
~ Make sure they are familiar with the building/department rooms, toilet locations etc
~ Introduce them to the key people - photocopying people, caretaker, cleaners etc
~ Get them to see lots of lessons from different year groups and different teachers in your department straight away so they are really enthused and get a view of the ethos/style of your department
~ Let them know their timetable and what topic they will be starting with each class so they can start to read up and plan lessons

hope this helps Dan, this is what i did with our 2 students last week and they went away very happy and calm!!!
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#7 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 07:28 PM

I'd agree with Richard here. The first visit really is a 'find your feet' day. Get some idea of who people are and what they do in school, an introduction to the department and an overview of its primary aims and objectives and a chat about their expectations, needs and desires etc is what I normally do on visit 1. We also find that the first day in usually has induction sessions built in that are delivered by the schools ITT co-ordinator, so the student is really only with the department for perhaps haf a day. I also asked them if they were interested in teaching a second subject and if there were any areas that they already perceived as being strengths and / or areas for development. The departmental bumpf was skimmed over but copies given to be read in preparation for this weeks visits to school.

#8 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 11 October 2004 - 09:17 PM

Thanks for the feedback, I think I was getting a bit carried away! I will speak to the woman who co-ordinates the ITTs and other HoDs and see what they are doing too. I'll let you know how we get on.
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#9 Paul Smith

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Posted 12 October 2004 - 10:11 AM

I have circulated the details of this seminar to a number of colleagues. We did have to tell the Scientists to substitute the words Science/Maths for History....and they have got the hang of it! (I was going to make a comment that the Geographers were still colouring in the avatars but I have a good friend who is teaching Geog at the moment...so I won't ;) )

Just to say thanks for a great seminar and I am encouraging our mentors to contribute...via me if they aren't Historians (we don't want fume sniffers on this forum!)

paul :)
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#10 Sally Burnham

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Posted 13 October 2004 - 04:31 PM

In response to Neil's query about organisation of paper work and evidence folders...

On the organisational front, I try to make sure that the mentor meeting each week is a time for me to check the organisation rather then giving time over to organsing files etc. I expect my trainees from the outset to have a list of activities they do each week at the front of their file and then behind that they keep all lesson plans, feedback forms, resources, observations of other teachers, reading they have had to do to meet a training activity and so on. Then there is the mentor record sheet with the new targets. I explain right at the outset that this is my expectation and will not accept anything less - it saves having to waste valuable discussion time on admin! Perhaps a checklist of what you expect to see each week would help the less organised student?

#11 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 13 October 2004 - 08:27 PM

In response to Neil's query about organisation of paper work and evidence folders...

On the organisational front, I try to make sure that the mentor meeting each week is a time for me to check the organisation rather then giving time over to organsing files etc. I expect my trainees from the outset to have a list of activities they do each week at the front of their file and then behind that they keep all lesson plans, feedback forms, resources, observations of other teachers, reading they have had to do to meet a training activity and so on. Then there is the mentor record sheet with the new targets. I explain right at the outset that this is my expectation and will not accept anything less - it saves having to waste valuable discussion time on admin! Perhaps a checklist of what you expect to see each week would help the less organised student?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


With Sally on this. The admin aspects of this are the reponsibility of the ITT trainee, not the mentor. Draw up a programme of study early in their serial visits and publish this to the ITT co-ordinator, the Uni based trainer and the student. That way you spend your time passing on advice and training rather becoming bogged down in mindless and totally inappropriate admin tasks.

#12 Dan Lyndon

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Posted 17 October 2004 - 05:54 PM

So the first week has gone very well, the student and I have had some interesting conversations, the observations have thrown up some good discussion points and I am looking forward to next week. Ok, next question - is it ever too early for the trainee to start planning and teaching part of a lesson such as a starter activity?
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#13 Richard Drew

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Posted 17 October 2004 - 07:18 PM

In a new system at Bath Spa this year, our students come to us for 3 thursdays before starting full time with us after half term. The first day is purely observations and finding their feet, the second visit they have to teach a part of a lesson and the 3rd time a whole lesson, this is working out really really well after two visits - i'd definitely give them a chance.

I remember on my PGCE itching to actually teach and getting the chance on my very first day!!!!!!
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#14 Ed Podesta

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Posted 26 January 2005 - 05:06 PM

I've got a couple of students who are really good and working very well, only a couple of weeks into their main placement. How can I stretch them?

Ed.

"In the past, philosophers have sought only to understand the world. The point is also to change it." - K. Marx
"Classification is exceedingly tedious" - I. Berlin

 

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#15 Ed Podesta

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 10:32 AM

Hi again,

My pgce interns are still doing well, but I'm having a little trouble getting one of them to ask questions of the teachers she is observing. She gets involved when observing, teaches her own lessons well, but I'd like to get her talking about history teaching with her more experienced colleagues.

How can I help her to feel more comfortable about this?

Ed.

"In the past, philosophers have sought only to understand the world. The point is also to change it." - K. Marx
"Classification is exceedingly tedious" - I. Berlin

 

ModernWorldGcseHistory.1.gif

 

OneDamnThing.1.gif

 

Podestaorguk.1.gif

 





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